Manhattan project

A four-tiered atrium in this converted office building sets the stage for relaxed living in the heart of the city

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View of the games room

Expansive river views, a central location and a concrete slab building structure with high ceilings and solid foundations made a city office block a prime candidate for conversion to 59 spacious apartments.

The renovation began with demolition, taking the structure back to its bare concrete slab bones. The 1960s building has 3.5m ceilings which allowed developer Condor Projects to raise floors or install coffered ceilings while retaining an open, spacious feel in the apartments, says project manager Lindsay Albonico.

To develop individual styles for the apartments, the company took an innovative approach tothe interior design.

"We selected three different interior designers and gave them each a one-bedroom apartment, a two-bedroom apartment, a sub-penthouse and a penthouse," he says. "They all had to work independently in developing their plans."

"We invested a year in designing the apartments and sourcing all of the materials in advance. Managing that was a challenge, and we have materials from nearly every country in the world. But the results have been worth the effort."

Four floors were added to the building for the penthouse suites. Taking advantage of the wide river views on every level of the penthouse was a central concept for Ross Sta Maria, designer of the penthouse featured on these pages.

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View of the dining, lounge & kitchen areas

"The design is completely open but has a sense of discreet spaces," says Sta Maria. "From the ground floor looking up and from the top looking down, you can read the entire apartment. Yet there is privacy on each level.

"Comfortable living and spaciousness were more important than square metres," he says. "These apartments are meant for settled couples who want a distinctive space to live in."

The open-plan ground floor flows smoothly from the main living area to the dining room and into the kitchen. Each space is defined by different features, including pillars, ceiling lights and heights, and glass panels.

A full range of materials was used in the apartments, with blackbutt hardwood floors, a black marble dining room table, granite benchtops and colour-backed glass. Upstairs, the bedrooms have custom carpeting and the bathrooms are tiled in polished sandstone.

A main feature of the apartment is the central staircase. Constructed of stainless steel withtextured steel mesh panels, the cantilevered timber steps twist and turn upward and appear to be suspended from the wall.

The design presented an engineering challenge, as did the internal balconies that are progressively recessed the higher you go. All of the tolerances and specifications were determined and tested before construction began.

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View of the living area

The balconies provide casual seating areas that extend the living space in the bedrooms for reading, watching television or enjoying the views.

"People rarely use external balconies," says Sta Maria. "By bringing them inside, we were able to combine privacy with wonderful outdoor views."

Sta Maria custom designed the free-form furniture pieces on the master bedroom balcony. Their sculpted shapes in contrasting suede and leather textures add contour to the seating area.

Another bedroom, bathroom and seating area with a fold-away bed are on the third level. Tucked away at the top is a secluded spot for quiet reading or contemplation.

"There is a nice blend of comfort and opulence in the apartment," says Sta Maria. "Getting the best of the light and the views was the priority, and we are very pleased with the results."

Story by: Trendsideas

20 Aug, 2003